High schoolers intimidate me. They’re super trendy and hang out in large groups and know way more about computers than I do. As a general rule I try to keep my distance from this age group, but what is it like to work with them every day? I talked to one Charlotte high school teacher about cockroaches, teenage body odor and the student who ordered a pizza to her classroom. Here are her confessions:
What’s the best part about teaching? The worst part?
The best part is the relationships with the kids. It’s such a pleasure to see how students grow throughout the semester.
The worst part is hands-down, 100% the pay. My husband and I are both teachers and he is leaving the profession mostly due to the fact that we want to start a family and it’s not really feasible to do that in Charlotte on two teacher salaries.
Do you play favorites? Do you have students you hate?
I have favorites, but I don’t PLAY favorites. A student’s grade is never impacted by my personal feelings. Every student is graded on the same scale with the same level of thought, despite students often claiming, “She failed me because she didn’t like me.” I don’t know if I “hate” any students but there are definitely some that I don’t like (and I’m glad when they are absent).
When you first started, what’s the thing that most surprised you about high schoolers?
The kids have NO shame. I remember early on I told a student they couldn’t go to the restroom until after I was done going through the assignment and he very loudly said, “Please, I have diarrhea and I’m just going to keep farting in here if I can’t go.” WAY too much information!
I also had a kid order pizza right to classroom. I told him he could only eat it if there was enough for the whole class (me included).
In your opinion, are kids getting smarter or dumber?
They are getting less smart every year. I think people would be shocked to learn the number of students who don’t earn their diploma but are passed along just help the graduation rate. I have personally received many requests from my superiors to change failing grades of seniors just to get them out the door. It happens A LOT and it is really sad and unfair to the students who worked hard to earn their diploma.
What should people know about Charlotte teachers?
We’re working in poor conditions. The heat and air systems break several times a year, there are cockroaches everywhere, black mold in classrooms, work orders for pretty basic things take up to six months to be completed. I was surprised to learn from a custodian that the school system does not provide or allow them to have any liquid cleaners. They are only allowed to mop with water and nothing gets wiped down. I mop my own floor and use Clorox wipes on surfaces in my classroom regularly because I’d rather do it myself than not have it done.
How often do you catch kids hooking up? I made out with a lot of people in my high school hallways.
Ugh, a lot. I also have had to redirect a lot of graphic conversations I hear students having about hooking up. It’s so gross. It’s basically on par with hearing your parents talk about their sex life.
What about teachers being too flirty with students?
Sometimes students will flirt with teachers, mostly trying to lay on the charm to stay in good graces but I have had a few instances of students making really inappropriate and sexual remarks about my body in the hallway. They weren’t my students and most likely didn’t know I was a teacher (I often get mistaken for a student even though I’m over a decade out of high school) but it was really uncomfortable!
Do you ever pass kids just because you feel bad for them?
I have passed a student on one or two assignments. I also tend to look the other way if a student misses too many days of class if I know they have a tough situation at home.
Any other confessions?
Sometimes I spray down the room with air freshener and I will say it’s because “someone heated up something weird in the breakroom microwave.” But the real reason is that the kids in my class smell really bad and I can’t take it.